why I don’t apologise for my messy house

For the past ten years I’ve apologised for my messy house on countless occasions.

It’s become such a common part of my repertoire that I spurt it out as though it’s a standard part of conversation; “It’s so nice to see you! Come in…apologies for the mess.”

More often than not the conversation then steers towards the relentless nature of washing and dishes and once again I find comfort in motherhood solidarity.

Lately my excuse has been a good one; a new baby and a messy house go hand-in-hand. But I wonder: why do I need to apologise in the first place? Is it my perfectionist tendencies or an ingrained belief that a house should be tidy before guests arrive?

A few weeks ago, when Lou (a fellow mum-of-four) came to visit, the house was in a dire state of disarray. I warned her about the mess but chose not to apologise and she got it – she’s pretty adept at stepping over toys and turning a blind eye. Perhaps what was most affirming was when she told me it was a relief for her to know that I was normal.

I’m so normal…the most normal. Very, very normal.

It’s time for me to really, truly accept that an ordered home is not something to strive towards every day because it so rarely comes to fruition. And when it does? It’s fleeting to say the least.

As for my need to apologise?  It reached a new level of absurd this morning when I was driving Poet and her friend home. I almost apologised about the state of the house – to a child.

Why in the world do I feel the need to apologise to a five-year-old about our messy house? And more importantly, why do I think she would notice or care?

Am I setting a precedent that we can only open our home to guests when there’s no washing to be folded and a kitchen free of dishes? Am I teaching the children that this is a rule?

Yes! That’s exactly what I’m doing.

Granted there is a level of organisation that’s required to ensure I don’t get lost in a sea of clothes/toys/crayons/dishes/miscellany but there’s also a bar that needs to be lowered so I can be content with what is.

More letting go and less apologising. There’s balance in there, somewhere.

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Showing 9 comments
  • Kate

    I love love love this post. I’m so pleased that you have realised this now while your children are young and your behaviour is so influential.
    Mine are grown and I so so wish I had realised this when they were younger, I wish my home had been an open door, friends always welcome kind of place. I have apologised to other kids about our home, I have caused myself anxiety attacks over being judged by others, including children. You know what, now our house is so quiet and lonely because the kids don’t bring people around much. But I have plenty of time to clean and tidy! I hate it.
    Thanks for keeping it real.
    Cheers Kate

  • Coco

    Thank you! Something I think we all struggle with. I know of mom friends that made the rule of “no cleaning up” just for company! How liberating that must’ve been.

  • Bec

    You put my thoughts into beautiful words, no more apologising.. I always kick myself mentally whenever I say sorry about the state of the house..ha!

  • Deb Brady

    This has resonated so strongly with me. I think in this day with IG perfect homes filling our feed, Home Renovation shows etc we have lost the plot well and truly. Mine are now in their 20’s but come Uni Exams their study paraphernalia encroaches into the rest of the house and I often feel torn between screaming I want no clutter but also realising that this is our family home . Seeing the beauty in the little things – an uncluttered small table with a few treasured photos and a blooming orchid , the sweet smell of the beeswax candles , the feel of the clean kitchen floor when it’s freshly washed (for I wouldn’t truly appreciate it , if it never needed washing in the first place)

  • Kat

    The rule in our house growing up was “if you invite someone you make sure the house is tidy and clean.” That was a lot of work for a kid, and it certainly had an effect in our willingness to invite friends. I loved going to my friend’s house that was always messy, and it never bothered me, I found it liberating. Needless to say, no such rule in my house now. I do still find myself apologizing, but more out of habit as I obviously don’t mean it…

  • Anne

    Our neighbours kids came over and I said to my partner I better clean up before the children judge me! Of course I was joking but I always feel like I am being judged when people pop in and I have a messy house.

    • Kate

      You are not alone. This is me too.

  • camilla

    I am so glad you brought this up. I know it so well. And I am so DONE with it. The problem is my husband is not. His mother and sister both clean and tidy like its their job, so he’s grown up with a very nice home. So he is very conscious of the fact when our house is not super clean if we have company. And it is a major stress factor for me.

    I like to have a nice tidy home too, but that is mostly because visual mess stresses me. Obviously it will be easier when the kids get older, but right now I only feel the need to tidy when the stress of seeing the mess is greater than the stress/pressure put on me to clean 🙂
    (not sure if that made sense btw) 😀

  • Sharolyn


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